William Audain Asks About Battery Life for Olympus and Lumix Cameras

Posted Sep. 6th, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

Battery Life for Olympus and Lumix Cameras.

I am not an explorer, simply put I am a hobbyist photographer but I have come across your website simply because you use m 4/3 cameras. I am considering getting a Panasonic gh3, which you have tested extensively.
I own an Olympus em1 and em5, the reason being the small form factor , JPEG quality and high ISO grain that I find perfectly acceptable. The one thing that is problem to me is the lack of battery power, when out in the field have you experienced the same issue? Do you find the omd range eats batteries? I recently counted from a full charge with excessive chimping and menu adjustment (at home) 155 shots. I have turned off and adjusted every setting that would assist in draining the battery quickly.

Is it just a case of, carrying 4-5 batteries +2 in the camera and grip?

I know the Panasonic gh3 with a battery in the camera and battery pack is is highly rated for all day shooting, In your experience would you say this is correct?

Great to hear from you William. Your issues regarding battery life with both your Olympus cameras is not surprising. Olympus makes a great camera but it’s incredibly small size puts it at a disadvantage when it comes to battery life. I recently returned from our Alaska whales and brown bear photography trips where one of our long-time Explorers was traveling with us who uses the Olympus Om-D EM-1. She was lamenting the battery issues herself and mentioned that she easily goes through as many as three batteries per day. The somewhat larger size of the Lumix GH4 allows for a considerably larger battery compartment and I regularly get as much as one full day per battery. That said, if I think it will be a super productive shoot I will always carry one spare.

Lumix GH4 with the BGGH3 battery grip attached and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens

Lumix GH4 with the BGGH3 battery grip attached and the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens

Without a doubt the MFT cameras have nowhere close to the battery life of my Nikon cameras that I could shoot for 2-3 days without charging batteries. MFT camera’s lack of battery life comes from an always on LCD screen and the fact that the MFT cameras just don’t have the internal room for a larger battery.

Rear view of the GH4 with BGGH3 battery grip

Rear view of the GH4 with BGGH3 battery grip

With my Lumix cameras I sometimes use the extra battery grip that is especially nice when using the longer telephoto zooms. It not only gives me extra battery power but also a better handle to grasp when using the larger lenses.

Panasonic Lumix and Olympus have a common thread with their cooperative efforts to establish the Micro Four Thirds category of cameras but they diverge considerably when it comes to how small a camera can be before it loses the necessary tools to make it productive. Battery life is just one of those tools the GH4 and GH3 cameras provides that the Olympus cameras cannot. Fortunately Panasonic has made many great decisions in their designs and engineering where they give the photographer just the right amount of “whatever” in exchange for a smaller lighter package when compared to the traditional DSLR’s. There is a limit as to how small a camera can go before it becomes unproductive.

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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. Bill TylerOn Sep. 10th, 2015

    I own both a GH4 and an E-M1. While I haven’t done actual measurements, it’s very clear that the GH4 battery life is far better than the E-M1. I try to carry several spare batteries for the E-M1, and I’ve found that I might use as many as three in a day of shooting. No matter what camera you use, though, I’d recommend always carrying at least one spare battery. And, as Daniel has pointed out previously, the controls on the GH camera are more photographer friendly. The E-M1 has an advantage if you want to use non-image-stabilized lenses like the Olympus 40-150 in Daniel’s photo above, since the in-body stabilization works with any lens.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 10th, 2015

      Thanks for your input Bill. Not sure if you’re aware of the new Lumix GX8 which is also now incorporating In Body Image Stabilization. I’m currently in Brazil and will be headed to South Africa for the next four weeks where I’ll be testing the GX8 using it almost exclusively with the Olympus 40-150mm and the 1.4X teleconverter, testing the new IBIS. So far I’m very impressed. Additionally, the GX8 is also capable of what Panasonic is calling Dual Image IS which uses the Lumix lens IS and the in camera IBIS to get double the stabilization. Great new technology that seems to be working exceptionally well.

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